Aristotles Political Ideal

.. nt in nature, so he did not challenge the institution of slavery. Euripides and Alcidamas did in their thinking. Aristotle believed heavily in a graduated class system that would include such classes as agricultural workers, craftsmen, and paid laborers. The agricultural workers, Aristotle concludes, will be slaves, or non-Greeks, dwelling in the area surrounding the city.

But the class most important to maintain the state, Aristotle refers to as the ruling class. This class will take care of the military and deliberative elements of the state. This is the ruling class that was previously discussed as the citizens of Aristotle’s Ideal State. They would live neither a commercial life nor an agricultural life, for Aristotle feels that the ruling class must have “leisure to cultivate their virtue and talents, time for activities of a citizen.” The citizens would earn their livings by being purveyors of the land that the lower classes would work The duties of the ruling class would be to handle the state in both its military and civil functions. But each member of the ruling class can not handle both of these functions simultaneously, therefore, during a citizen’s youth, when he is strong and more able; he will serve in the military aspect of society. As the citizen grows older and wiser, he will begin to take on more of a role in the civil duty of the state, or choose to serve the gods and be appointed to priestly offices.

The private property of the state is also to belong to the ruling class, for it is essential that citizens should have ample subsidence. Aristotle made a distinct comment that he did not believe in any sort of communally owned land. Aristotle believes that man’s well being depends on two distinct factors. The first being the “right choice of target, of the end to which actions should tend, the other lies in finding the actions that lead to that end.” This same principle follows for the best constitution in that in order for the constitution to work, it must have a clear goal, and the correct way of attaining that goal. The goal of Aristotle’s Ideal Constitution is for a well-executed and suitably maintained system, in order that desired happiness shall be attained. This Ideal Constitution is not the same for all since “different sets of people seek their happiness in different ways and by different means so it is little wonder that their lives are different or that they have different political constitutions.” If this is true, then how can you have one ideal constitution? The answer is you can not have one Ideal Constitution, but you can have the basic elements of the ideal constitution in order to have a functioning city. These basic elements are food, handicrafts and their tools, arms, wealth, religion, and justice. Arms must be carried at all times by members of the ruling class for internal government in the event of civil disobedience, and to halt outside aggression. Wealth is required for both war and internal needs, and the method of justice needs to be developed so that there is a clear method of arriving at decisions, both about policy and about matters of wrong and right.

These basic elements, minus religion and arms, in some cases are elements that for the most part have been carried along throughout the ages and many times are commonly taken for granted as the inherent responsibilities of nations. It is declared in the constitution that all citizens “must share in the business of ruling and being ruled by “turns.” There are several reasons why Aristotle believes that this is the ideal way in which the state should be run, and only in a few cases can he conceive of it otherwise. First, he believes that if one group was superior over another group, such as in the case of gods and heroes, then they should be capable of ruling over others. In the case of the Ideal State, he declares that citizens are equals, and therefore, they should share in the ruling of the state or else it would be contrary to justice. Next, he believes that “one who is to be come a good ruler must first himself be ruled”.

This is to prevent a large revolutionary element, and to promote an element in which the laws shall be better regarded. This is also so that no one can have any great objection to the rule by seniority, or be able to think himself too good for it, because he realizes that once he reaches the required age he too may rule and get what he earned by waiting. Aristotle’s vision of his ideal state is one that is in stark contrast with all of the prominent civilizations of the 20th century. It is especially different than a democratic nation such as our own. In addition, the Aristotelian Political State is one built upon a classist theory that we, as modern Americans, have been raised to find deplorable and harsh. Yet we live in a society that is greatly based, not just recognized in our constitution the way it would have been in Aristotle’s ideal.

Also, the caste system has been in effect in India for hundreds of years and has yet to be greatly challenged or changed. Aristotle’s goal of his society was for the happiness of the citizens through moral virtue. Aristotle would have found our modern capitalist society, which is based on profit, deeply disturbing. The Aristotelian state is one that has a community aspect to it; Aristotle was in favor of such things, such as communal meals, and meeting centers so that citizens could develop productive and happy relationships with fellow citizens. The ruling of the state is one that would share the duty among the citizens.

This policy is one that would enable peace to be kept among all, and would prevent bureaucracy, the downfall of democracy mixed with capitalism. He advocated scientific inquiry and development of technology. Though Aristotle had no vision of massively large nations, and we have trouble conceiving the world without such large nations, it may be that such large centrally run nations are just too big to control. Therefore, it is important to note that the largest and longest standing empire of the world is the Roman Empire, one that implicated small municipalities that were run in ways similar to the Aristotelian and ancient Greek ideals. Most modern, western nations have faired no better than a few years without war, or revolution or something to that effect, so perhaps we need to look back and take lessons from the great thinkers of the ancient past.

As old and forgotten as they are, the ideas Aristotle originally presented are new and fresh should many of them be thought about and greeted. Bibliography ? Aristotle, The Politics, ed. S. Everson (Cambridge, 1988). ? Mulgan, R, Aristotle’s Political Theory (Oxford, 1977).

Philosophy Essays.

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